It's that time of year where we let our hair down, and as a packed social schedule starts to have an effect on our waistline, is there any way we can train hard enough to work off the Christmas excess?
Meeting friends for drinks, the work Christmas party, meals out when we wouldn't normally have them, the Christmas period is pretty rough on our bodies. We're tired, we're stuffed and we might let our otherwise strict exercise regime fall by the wayside. In an effort to examine just how much of an effect an average week in December can have on us, Adrian Collins of the Man Cave went along to chat to Anthony Lynch of Raw Gyms to see how many calories he'd taken in after a couple of nights on the town, and was there any way that he could work it off.
Here's a break down of what I was at during a particularly heavy week that featured the work Christmas party and a meal with friends that I hadn't seen in a while, so it was a bit more than usual, but hey, it's Christmas.
Drinks with the guys - 6 pints: 330 calories per drink = 1980 calories
To feed the hangover, a quick breakfast roll and a Lucozade = 1466 calories
Then the work Christmas dinner took place, a three course meal (2159 calories) with 5 glasses of wine (125 calories per glass) = 2784 calories
One of the people in work was leaving so we had a quick few drinks (2 pints at 330 calories each) which featured some finger food (a few cocktail sausages and chicken fingers) = 1040 calories
A meal with friends at home, which was three courses again: garlic bread - 188 calories; bolognese - 660 calories; brownie & ice cream - 635 calories with 5 glasses of wine (125 calories per glass) = 2108 calories
In total across the four days, I took in an extra 9378 calories, which Anthony rounded up to a helpful 9,500 because...let's face it, I probably ate a quick bit of chocolate here and there. As Anthony notes, these are all calories on top of what I would normally eat, which would be pretty balanced, so the work that needs to be done is to burn off everything extra that I've taken on.
As the old saying goes, you can't out-train a bad diet, and to put that in perspective, Anthony runs us through a few example of how much exercise that you'd need to do to burn just 500 calories, and it's a pretty tough ask. One of the forms of exercise that burns the most calories is swimming, and doing that for one hour would still only burn 790 calories, so there's a lot of work to be done if I want to balance the scales on my excesses.
In the video above, Anthony details a few smarter choices that I could have made on those nights out, and that you can take on board so you don't have to work quite so hard as I did, and he gives a break down of a quick example of a circuit that would burn 67 calories in 5 minutes. That might not sound like a lot, but the reason for doing a high-intensity circuit is to push the body to work harder than normal.
There are several reasons for this but the main thing to aim for is something called EPOC - excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. The aim is to get an oxygen debt going in your body so that once you've finished your workout, you keep burning calories for longer.
You're aiming for anaerobic energy expenditure which gets your metabolic rate up and raises your body temperature, so for your body to return to its normal state, it needs to replenish the fuel you've used and balance your hormones again, and also to turn that lactic acid built up in your muscles back to pyruvic acid. All of this requires more from your body over a longer period of time, so that helps to burn a few more calories and, hopefully, balance me back out again after a pretty hectic week.
Check back on Thursday for the video of the circuit and how I got on, and a breakdown of exactly what I had to do this week to see if I could get to the necessary level of 9,500 calories.